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Palestinian Authority

Palestinian Authority

Hamas, however, won local elections in 2005 and gained effective control of Gaza. 1 At the meeting of the newly elected Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah, Abbas called for new elections on 25 January 2010, 2 but the West Bank municipal elections were cancelled. 3Hamas, once viewed as the more radical Islamist party, is now pressed by more extreme groups. In August 2009, its security forces attacked the IbnTaymiyah mosque in the Gaza town of Rafah, killing a number of members of an insurgent Islamic sect called Jund Ansar Allah JAA, along with the groups leader, AbdelLatif Moussa. Hamas had accused the group of bombing Internet cafs, music stores, foreign schools, and weddings allegations the group denied. In turn, JAA complained that Hamas had persecuted its members, confiscated money and equipment worth $120,000, and even tried to kidnap its Syrian military commander, Abu Abdallah alMuhajir. At the mosque, Moussa and his followers refused to surrender to the Hamas forces gathered outside, and ensuing fighting left 22 dead.4 Hamas, which had presented itself as an Islamist alternative to Fatah, has had difficulty in maintaining its religious image, and has been more aggressive than Fatah in suppressing challenges. Increasingly subject to the same criticisms it had offered when opposition, it was challenged by Salafist organizations including alQaeda when, after taking control of Gaza, it declined to impose Sharia law. JAA apparently triggered armed response when it announced it was establishing an Islamic emirate in Gaza, and put out a call for Palestinian to come to its mosque, armed.